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The Illinois class was a group of three pre-dreadnought battleships of the United States Navy commissioned at the beginning of the 20th century. The three ships, Illinois, Alabama, and Wisconsin, were built between 1896 and 1901. They were transitional ships; they incorporated advances over preceding designs, including the first modern gun turrets for the main battery, and new rapid-firing secondary guns, but they were also the last American battleships to feature dated technologies like fire-tube boilers and Harvey armor. They were armed with a main battery of four 13-inch (330 mm) guns in two twin turrets, supported by a secondary battery of fourteen 6 in (150 mm) guns. The ships had a designed speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph), though they exceeded that speed by a significant margin.
USS Illinois, the lead ship of the class
|Operators||United States Navy|
|Preceded by||Kearsarge class|
|Succeeded by||Maine class|
|Length||375 ft 4 in (114.40 m) loa|
|Beam||72 ft 3 in (22.02 m)|
|Draft||23 ft 6 in (7.16 m)|
|Speed||16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)|
The three ships served in a variety of roles and locations throughout their career. Illinois served with the North Atlantic Squadron and the European Squadron early in her career, while Wisconsin served as the flagship of the Pacific Fleet and then in the Asiatic Fleet. Illinois and Alabama started the cruise of the Great White Fleet in December 1907 from the east coast of the United States, though by the time they had rounded South America and stopped in California, Alabama was forced to leave the fleet due to machinery problems. Wisconsin joined the fleet there and continued on with it to the conclusion of its tour in February 1909. All three ships were modernized in 1909 and served in the Atlantic Fleet for a short time.
By 1912, all three ships had been reduced to the reserve fleet and were primarily employed as training ships. They continued in this role during World War I, training men to operate the machinery of warships and transports for the war effort. They were all decommissioned by 1920. Illinois was loaned to the New York Naval Militia and was converted into a floating arsenal. Renamed Prairie State in 1941, she was eventually sold for scrapping in 1956. Wisconsin was broken up for scrap in 1922, while Alabama was expended as a target ship in September 1921 in bombing tests with the US Army Air Service.